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Savoring California

March 27, 2012

Last week I flew to California to do some bioenergy consulting.

I was lucky enough to be able to spend an extra two days to tour along the Pacific coastline just south of San Francisco. Being as land-locked as I am in Kentucky, the ocean is always a  delightful shock to my system. Let me settle down on a sheltered strip of beach and I’m good all day, staring at the water crashing on  the rocks and envisioning the energy dynamics. I can get mentally lost for hours, contemplating the chemical and biological interactions of the plants, animals, and water systems right down to the smallest molecules. So I’m a little weird…

I have to occasionally stop and remind myself, “Don’t forget the beauty!” So I switch gears and savor the smells, the breeze, the sounds of the waves meeting the shoreline and the cries of the gulls. I absorb the blueness of it all, the Beluga whales migrating northward, and the perfect horizon. Appreciation and wonder take hold. I have to remind myself to breath. I am now totally plugged in to this moment. What an amazing, diverse planet and we get to LIVE on it!

I also drove inland to Big Basin State Park, where the ancient redwoods towered 250 feet above my head. It was raining and a shivery-damp 38 degrees. I drove at a snail’s pace along the winding, narrow road with my mouth hanging open and an occasional “Holy cow, look at THAT!” I jumped out a few times to stand next to trees as wide as my rental car and taller than the clouds. I have to confess to whooping and hollering a bit.

 I took shelter in the hollow of one of them when the rain began pouring in buckets. This giant redwood was large enough to put a cot against one wall and have a little campfire if I’d wanted to. Once again, I plugged into the moment and felt the rain trickle through the carpet of needles, nourishing the biota and giving vital fluid to the roots of these magnificent Sequoian ancients. That’s as far as I got because I was freezing and my camera had gotten wet.

It’s one thing to become immersed in nature but interactions with humans are equally powerful and fascinating. I used to be too shy to strike up conversations with strangers. A few years ago, I witnessing a good friend easily converse with an elevator full of people. Before the door slid open, they were all laughing and hugging each other.

I asked her how on earth she united total strangers like that. She grinned and said, “Hey, we’re all the same species, aren’t we?” Ever since then, I’ve given myself the freedom to likewise engage with people wherever I go. To my new friends in California, I have to say how very much I enjoyed our visits and laughter. You are treasures of wisdom, humor, and heart. Bless you!

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